More Software: I’ve been plotting out the second half of Bathtub Jinn, and by Sunday I had several pages of hand-written notes, scene sketches, etc. I was thinking it was time to type it all into the computer so I could print it out, add to it, move bits around, and so forth, when what should show up in my email but a notice that the latest version of Action Outline was on sale for less than half price. I used an early version of Action Outline years ago, and it may even be on the old computer gathering dust in the corner room with all the other stuff I don’t use much. But it’s not on my current computer, and the new version, all tuned up for Windows 7, looked like just what I needed. So I pulled out my only-for-writing-expenses credit card, and ten minutes later (oh, the instant gratification!) I was typing up my notes in outline form.
More Books: By the time I finished reading The Day of the Triffids, I was so nostalgic I wanted to read more Wyndham. But the paperback copies on my keeper shelf are pretty much past reading, with brittle yellow pages coming away from the covers. The oldest was printed in 1961.
Most of Wyndham’s novels are out of print, so I headed over to Alibris.com to see what I could find. John Wyndham may be largely out of print, if not actually forgotten, in this country, but not in Great Britain, where Penguin UK has reprinted them (with odd, rather animé-looking covers) in paperback over the past few years. By the time I hit the button to submit my order, I had racked up six books, all from a dealer called the Book Depository, and spent $75, but the order included the five books I wanted to replace and one, published posthumously, that I had never heard of (Plan for Chaos). According to an email from Alibris, the books shipped yesterday (from the UK) and should be here next week.
I have other books around the house as old or older, in good shape, printed on better quality (perhaps acid-free) paper. I don’t really expect a thirty-five-cent paperback, printed in 1961, to last forever. But it’s made me think about the fragility of books, subject as they are to the effects of fire, water, insects and age. As much as I enjoy my Kindle, though, I don’t think electronic storage is the answer. I have cartons of old paper in my attic, and whatever the mice haven’t eaten is probably readable, although I have no intention of testing that theory. I know I can’t read anything stored on five-inch floppy disks, and there are boxes of those up there, too.
Archeologists of the past cracked the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics and learned to read Sumerian grocery lists written on clay tablets. Will archeologists of the future be able to decipher the contents of a well-preserved iPad?